Farewell, Lakeside

Chip Robinson and the Roscoe Trio, Lakeside Lounge, 2009
I don't drink, but I always figured if I had the urge to get drunk off my ass, there was only one place befitting such an occasion: the Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B. Well, it turns out I only have two weeks left to get that urge, because the Lakeside is closing at the end of the month. And, quite frankly, I'm far too bummed about that to want to get drunk. It'd be a real sad bender, and no one likes the sight of a teary drunk.

Will Kimbrough, Lakeside Lounge, 2007
I haven't felt this awful about someplace closing since the Bottom Line went away (I still get a little misty/angry when I walk by the corner of W. 4th and Mercer), and that makes sense, because there were no two places that made me love live music as much as the Bottom Line and the Lakeside. The Bottom Line and the Lakeside were the only two places I "snuck" into for an over-21 show, and the Lakeside was the only one where I did so on my own. I don't think I knew the Lakeside was an over-21 place when I saw that the Yayhoos (Lakeside co-owner Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Terry Anderson, Dan Baird, and Keith Christopher) were playing there on, I'm guessing, March 10, 1997 (thank you, Internet!). In fact, I don't think I knew anything about the Lakeside at the time, and I may not have even known that there was a part of Manhattan where the avenues were letters. All I knew was that I loved the Georgia Satellites and the Dan Baird solo CD, Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired, and I read some article somewhere that said Dan was in a band with these guys who did cool covers like "Dancing Queen" and "Daydream Believer." Sold!

Dan Baird (The Yayhoos), Lakeside Lounge, NYC, 2005
So I figured out where this so-called Avenue B was, got to the Lakeside way ahead of the time the Yayhoos were listed, and nobody said a thing to me when I walked inside. It probably didn't even look like a show was going to happen anytime soon (it never seemed to when I got to the Lakeside on the early side), but there was a cool photo booth and a tabletop Ms. Pac Man, so the place seemed all right. And after the show started and I had seen the Yayhoos for the first time, I felt confident that the Lakeside might be the coolest place on earth. I have not wavered much from that initial assessment.

Dave Bartholomew and Terry Anderson (Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team), 2010
I can't recall ever leaving the Lakeside feeling anything less than ecstatic that I lived so close to such a cool place, where I could see bands I loved without a drink minimum or even a cover (rest assured, I always contributed to the tip jar, and those that don't, at any club, should have their ears ripped out). Even if the show itself was underwhelming (which couldn't have happened more than once or twice), it still felt good to be at the Lakeside. And it felt even better when the night's inevitable newcomer stood confused at the emergency exit door by the stage and had to receive his or her mimed directions to go to the next door down to get in the bar. When you saw that, you knew someone was about to have their first Lakeside experience, and would undoubtedly wind up the better for it. Or else the person had such a good time the previous go-round as to forget how to enter the Lakeside. Either way, cool.

Jason D. Williams, Lakeside Lounge, 2010
I have tons of great memories of shows at the Lakeside, whether it's the two Yayhoos shows (easily among my favorites anywhere), a bunch of great Chip Robinson shows (one or two of which I might've almost cried during as he played "Story"), the kind-of secret Elvis Club (aka the Del Lords) show, the completely insane Jason D. Williams show, or watching the people outside the Lakeside staring open-mouthed as Keith Christopher ripped off a solo on a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sway." And I think the Lakeside was the only place I've ever gone to a show to bring in the new year. I felt confident the amateurs would stay far away from the Lakeside. I was right. And a picture I took of Ambel was on the poster for the gig, which, I'm going to be honest, is one of the greatest things ever.

Scott Kempner (The Elvis Club, aka the Del Lords), Lakeside Lounge, 2011
So, farewell, Lakeside. I cannot tell you how much I will miss you. But as long as those chords still rattle in my ears and those paintings on the walls stay in my mind, I'll be all right. And for those of you who've never seen a show there, please hurry. You'll be mad at yourself if you can't brag to people that you went to the Lakeside.

Have a few drinks for me. And don't forget to tip the band.

Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Lakeside Lounge, 2011

1 comment:

roscoe said...

Thanks much!